I've had about the longest ends of summer I can possibly imagine. August is generally supposed to be about getting in those last summer parties, but it was quite a bit of work for me. I had a 2 week trip to Honolulu, and within that a 2-day, company trip to Las Vegas. Vegas was a blast of course. Shockingly enough, I didn't play a single hand of poker, and only an hour or so of Black Jack. The rest of the time was spent boozing it up by the pool all day, then dinner, then out clubbing at night. For the most part, I did pretty good at making a jack ass out of myself. Having to work Sunday afternoon (Honolulu time) we took the 10:30AM flight out of Vegas, which runs about five and a half hours. Of course, I was quite hungover, so I had been pounding water all morning. About an hour into the flight I start throwing it all up. Seems that dehydration caught up with me. Not sleeping a wink, and simply staring into space for the remaining four hours, I eventually went to the hospital for a drip which took about 2 hours from check-in until they finally administered it. I went back to the hotel, crashed, flew home the next day and got on with life. I've learned later though that someone else in our party got food poisoning, so perhaps that was it.
I've really been too busy with work and real life to enjoy any of the heaps of expensive gaming shit I have in my house. In all honesty, I've played nothing for any type of duration since the first of the summer. I did buy Eden from the Japanese PSN which is pretty fun. As luck would have it, it's about all I can commit to these days. I'll bust out MAME or a PCB every now and again, but honestly, I spend like 30 minutes each day having fun. The rest is all the boring shit.
The style of night life has always been one of those things changes from year to year, but the overall theme of going out and getting hammered has stayed the same. What I've always found somewhat facinating (and sad at the same time) is the lack of longevity of clubs. Back in Austin, there was only one night club that was open for basically ever, which was Ohms (right across from the police station). Here in Tokyo, a couple outlasted most party peoples partying lifestyles. The laws put in place by the Occupational Forces state that discos (that is, any institution whose main focus is dancing, and not drinking) is illegal to be open between midnight and 5AM. Like most laws in Japan though, it is only selectively enforced. As such, a lot of places with bad luck are shut down, sometimes on their opening night. Others, for some reason or another, thrive. The most surprising of them was Maniac Love [Japanese Article on it's last party], a tiny hole in the wall that many friends and myself called home every Sunday morning from 5AM to 10:30AM. It's tenure was from 1993 to 2005, supporting the after hours party for it's entire length, and the high level of drug consumption supporting it's customer base. It shut down because the owners refused to renew the lease to another club. Whether this was due to outside pressure or not remains unseen. And now, as if history is repeating itself 2 and a half years later, for apparently the same reasons, Space Lab Yellow shut its doors after 17 years of parties that have seen some of the most famous people in the industry.
Now I don't have any particular personal ties to Yellow other than it was the first club I went to in Tokyo, which was back in a little year I like to call 1996. I wasn't even living in Tokyo at the time, but was studying abroad in Shizuoka. Louie Vega from New York happened to be playing that night, I quite vivdly remember. As stated, I had no other attachment to the place. It never had a monthly event that I cared for, and the after hours parties there were a little too spaced out for me. The club is very maze-like as well and doesn't have a nice concentration of energy like Maniac Love had. Anyways, to go out with a bang, they lined up some pretty high profile people for the final month. Friday June the 20th was the second to the last party featuring Laurent Garnier and DJ Toby. Saturday the 21st was the final final, featured Francois K., and will run a whopping 10,000 yen to get in the door. Despite being quite tired, a friend dragged me out to the Friday gig. Getting there around 12:00, the music was pretty nostalgic. As luck would have it, some of the tunes of when I first moved to Tokyo (1998) were played. Niji by Denki Groove, Marmion by Schonenberg, and He Never Lost his Hardcore by someone whose name I forgot, just to name a few. In fact, I still have a lot of them on vinyl. The only problem was, the place was balls packed. Dancing was impossible, there were about 3 bartenders to each bar, a queue of some 30 people in each line, and of course, that Japanese custom of placing flowers from other companies (even competitors) when you open or close all over the place. You could say they had way too many flowers, and not enough bartenders. All in all it was fun, but I only recognized one single person (the photographer) who I knew from the good old days. I felt a bit old, and out of place. When I was running around, even at gaijin-friendly places, I was still somewhat of a token gaijin. Now there's a healthy population of western women that aren't dorks, and aren't strippers. The men have always been here, but there's even more now as Japan has become "a cool place to live". I wound up leaving the place around 2AM and going to a less crowded bar across the street to meet some friends of friends. For me to stand a crowd like that I need to see some amazing DJing. Laurent Garnier isn't bad by a stretch, but he's a bit overground for my taste. Indeed, a bit of a weird combination to play with Toby. So, another club goes down. Who knows how many will pop up in it's place.
As most people know, Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu was counter stopped on stage 1-5 by some top level players. As this was an obvious oversight, Cave is issuing a PCB revision that will add more digits to the score, change play mechanics, and add ships. It has truly torn this country apart. Personally I don't mind so much, but it is a bit irksome, especially if the tweaks affecting any patterns that have been made. I've not really put too much time into DFK though. What they do that pisses me off more than anything has to do with the limited number of goods they have for sale. This weekend, Cave had their Online Matsuri. Assuming Hey couldn't handle the huge number of people (not hard to believe), they decided to hock their gear online this time. It started at noon, and I had my browser ready. Before I could check out, I got a warning that the limited edition Ketsui 3D Cyrstal was sold out. This is a matter of like 5 minutes, mind you. So, of course, there will be bid wars out the ass on Yahoo Japan, then they'll make more for the next event and piss off everyone that paid too much for it.
I know I always have some comment about the weather, and this entry is going to be no different. I don't know whether to blame Al Gore or simply Mother Nature, but it's the first of June now, and I'm freezing my balls off. I feel like I'm getting screwed out of the best month of the year. Beatufiul weather for a week, and now this. Assuming it stops in the next few days, we've got about 2 weeks before it rains balls for about 6 more, then by that time it's full on summer. Will do my best to make it to the pool this year though. The totally white thing is definitely not fashionable for people that are already white.
I'm just about done with Senjou no Valkyria. Just can't seem to find the time to finish the last chapter. It has held my attention all the way through, and I'm definitely glad I made the plunge. Got a Blu-Ray player out of it as well, so no worries. The problem is, of course, now what the hell do I buy for my PS3? I think Devil May Cry 4 is about the only thing that looks even remotely interesting to me at this point. Hopefully the summer will hold something a little more worth my while. I picked up my first piece of DS software in about a year. I basically have forgotten how to write any of the kanji that require some type of memory to retain. As such, I bought one of the Kanken titles. My verdict is that writing on that touch pad is pretty lame, and not really good practice. One of my huge problems is stroke order as well, and the software I got doesn't really teach you that. It's more of a collection of questions and whatnot. Not the greatest learning material. Looks like it's good old fashioned paper and pen for me for a while.
Been pretty busy with real life and whatnot. Been squeezing some other games in, but haven't devoted too much time to them. Dodonpachi Daifukkatsu is the latest rage in the arcades. It's good and fun, but I would've rather they not strayed so far from the original concept. They've also molded it around their recent "easy and hard" layout, so beginners and freaks alike can enjoy it. The down side is that I have to wait in line behind those beginners, usually in a smoke filled game center. If the game was just straight up hard, the wait time would be truncated. The game is heaps of fun though. On the home front, something keeping me busy is my modded Sigma Raijin which now has a Seimitsu LS-30 in it. That will allow me to play the old SNK rotary stick games. Ikari was my first. Took a few days to get a clear, even though I kind of lucked through it. Such a cheap game at times. I've got Battlefield [Time Soldiers] but I've yet to give it a whirl. Perhaps this weekend. Pretty excited to be able to relive these games at least somewhat like they were in the arcades. The mod came out ugly, but it works.
I took another 10 day trip to Honolulu for work. As before, it was mainly work with very little play. I managed to make it to my old jogging grounds (Ala Moana Beach) one time for a decent jog. Other than that, I just popped into the gym after work, and went for dinner about two times. Not much has changed there, other than a bunch of new condos popping up. I can't imagine the investors of those buildings are having a great time, considering the sub prime debacle that's going on. I was able to get some decent shopping in. I brought back a stack of Apex bars from the gym, and bought some summer clothes. Not that I need any. The most ironic part of the trip was the first weekend I was there, there was an anime convention in the convention center about 100 yards from the hotel. Thus, the hotel I was staying in was at 100% capacity, of which 60% were in full on cosplay mode. Oh, joy. Unlike my last trip, I took the wife and kid this time. Apparently my son, despite a few whiney moments, is about the best baby air traveller on the planet. A middle-aged couple sitting a row behind and across from us continually waved to him, keeping him somewhat preoccupied. Over halfway through the flight, we went back to the can to change his diapers. One of the flight attendents held him for a while at which point most of the crew came to look at him. Said middle-aged woman was back there and well telling us how her grandchildrens' father is American, and how my son reminded her of them. She said he was amazingly well behaved. Definitely wasn't as smooth as my trip back to Texas in November, but from what I understand, way better than the average.
Upon our return we were greeted with some lovely Spring weather. The nights are kind of chilly but the days in May are so amazing. I love getting on my bike and riding around for no good reason. Spring and Fall in Japan make the winter worth bearing to me. Summer doesn't bother me all that much. I like to sweat when I excercise, and I don't go to any place of importance really, so I simply carry an extra shirt and change if need be. The general consensus amongst most people is that the summer is just too muggy.
I finally caved and ordered a PS3. I was in Borders in Honolulu and figured I might as well grab a BluRay version of anything I wanted to buy rather than a crappy regular DVD. As such, they had No Country for Old Men... the best movie I've seen in ages. I picked one up, figuring it was time to take the plunge. I ordered the 40GB Ceramic White model, which should be here soon. Senjou no Valkyria actually looks pretty amazing as well, so I've ordered that with it. My first new console game in ages. Hopefully it won't disappoint. There's a handful of BluRay DVDs I want to pick up as well. It seems that the Japanese releases of western movies are following suit in terms of price. New Releases are on sale as low as 3500 yen. Anime, however, is still painfully priced. Upwards of 10,000 yen for some release, although a handful of movies are in the 6500 yen range. Might pick up a couple of those, but I feel in the 10 years or so I've not watched much anime, I've not missed too much.
I added the poster section to the site (under the omake menu). They take a while to scan in and stitch, but I must admit, they're pretty cool. Hopefully I can get a nice amount of them, but the older ones are definitely hard to locate. Keep checking back as that section will grow. I also added two translations to the World of ESPGaluda section. One is a rather short one, while the other is a rather lengthy one with character designer Kado Tsukasa. Enjoy.
It's sakura time again, which means going to the park with every other person in Tokyo and looking at those white leaves. We went to Shinjuku Gyoen this year. While the weather was somewhat cloudy, it was still nice. Much warmer than most days of recent, and I must say, the park is amazing. The sakura trees have much nicer formations than in Yoyogi Park, which I jog through several times a week. Alcohol isn't permitted, so it's a bit more family oriented. Yoyogi Park has quite a few groups of people drinking, carrying on, and of course, smoking. After hauling the family out there, I realized that I left the battery of my good camera at home. As such, I was left to the crap camera on my mobile phone, and the slightly better but not great one on my video camera. So, my son's first sakura pictures leave a little to be desired. Thought about heading back on on Sunday, but it was pretty cloudy as well. There's always next year. I still don't understand the whole connection to Sakura and Japan. Yes, I know that it's unique to Japan (save the few that have been exported to places like Washington DC), but they basically bloom for a week, fall down and make an absolute mess. I see a much closer relation to Japanese food products than to Japanese life itself: something is sold for a short time, then poof - gone forever.
As I still have no truly useful file server, I decided to build a small Linux box with mirrored 1TB drives. I have a piece of shit NAS which of course (like all NAS devices) doesn't support NFS. Samba over ethernet gives horribly results. Storing my MP3 stash on it and using them from another machine breaks the MP3 software as it will eventually time out. Now, I have the nightmare issue of either faulty hardware, or a cocked up configuration. I'm not ready to blame either, and am getting little help from the Gentoo community. I've gotten some fingers pointing me into some useful directions, but nothing solid. Of course, in IRC you get faster help, but there's always that loser that seems to know everything, yet, nothing at the same time. It's really not their fault I guess. I mean, every tech-related online community has at least a handful (if not a majority) of pricks that really, truly think they're helping, but of course, have so few people skills that they are doomed to a social life restricted to chat rooms and forums. Yes, I realize the irony of writing that on a blog such this, but I actually do have something resembling a life. I also know how to speak plain English.
Turning my monitor back off of it's side, I've decided to play some older games that I've been ignoring. The trisynch can handle 22khz, so I busted out my Crack Down PCB. I've not played this since I was 13 years old. Pretty fun stuff, although it's definitely an acquired taste. Not sure if I'll clear it, as the last few stages are painfully difficult (not that the early ones are easy) but I'll definitely get some more use out of it. Some offbeat company put out a super play DVD of it and Gain Ground last year. Might pick it up, but it's a very non-trivial 6800 yen new. I would like to see how they do those last few stages though. Gain Ground is another PCB I'm after, but is not cheap.
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